The Washington Wizards have home court advantage and are favored to win in the first round of the playoffs against conference rival, the Atlanta HawksJohn Wall and the near 50-win 2016-2017 Washington Wizards are set to face off against the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the NBA Playoffs on Sunday, April 16 at 1 p.m.. The Wizards have home court advantage as the four seed, but the five seed Hawks have been rather hot of late. While Atlanta has won four of their last five games, the Wizards won three of their four games against Atlanta in the regular season and have the best record in the Eastern Conference since December 1. In 2015, the Hawks defeated the Washington Wizards in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. This time around, the Wizards are statistically the better team and are predicted to win the series in five games. The series tips off Sunday 1pm at the Verizon Center and will be broadcast nationally on TNT. The 49-33 Washington Wizards’ goal was to reach 50 wins this season. Despite coming up short of this goal, the team managed win its first division title since their last 50-win season 38 years ago. Early in the season things didn’t look so promising, as the Wizards started out 2-8. While the Wizards are an East Coast heavyweight and the favorite with the better record, historically teams that have started out 2-8 or worse have not done so well in the post season. In fact, the 2003-2004 Miami Heat are the only squad of the previous twelve to make the postseason after starting out at .200 or below through ten games and win a series.
Heading into Sunday’s opener, the Washington Wizards are healthy and rested, All-Star guard John Wall and Bradley Beal each sat out games towards the end of the regular season. The Wizards' only injured player is backup center Ian Mahinmi, who will likely miss three games with a strained left calf. Beal and Wall are two of the best guards in the league, while Otto Porter has become one of the NBA’s best three point shooters. Together, Beal and Wall averaged a combined 46.1 points per game in the regular season and Wall ranks second in the NBA in assists, averaging 10.7 per game. Atlanta’s strength, meanwhile, is down low in the paint. Washington must do its best to contain center Dwight Howard and four time All-Star Paul Millshap. In the season opener, Howard pulled a whopping 19 rebounds as the Hawks steamrolled over the Wizards 114-99. The Wizards won the remaining three games of the regular season against the Hawks but their loss in the season opener made clear the team’s weakness against Atlanta. Atlanta goes into the postseason strong on defense with a 103.0 rating - fourth best in the league. Washington's defense ranks in the bottom third defensively. The Washington Wizards will host the first two games at The Verizon Center before the series moves to Atlanta for games three and four. The games will be broadcast locally on CSN, while at least two games will be broadcast by TNT. The series may also be shown nationally on ABC, but neither the network nor the NBA has confirmed primetime network coverage. The home games are a hot ticket for DC basketball fans. Tickets are still available on Ticketmaster.com with prices ranging from $45-$632. The series schedule is as follows: Game 1: Hawks at Wizards, Sunday at 1 p.m. (TNT) Game 2: Hawks at Wizards, Wednesday, April 19 at 7 p.m. (NBA TV) Game 3: Wizards at Hawks, Saturday, April 22 at 5:30 p.m. (TNT) Game 4: Wizards at Hawks, Monday, April 24 at 8 p.m. (TNT) Game 5: If necessary, Hawks at Wizards, Wednesday April 26 (TBD) Game 6: If necessary, Wizards at Hawks, Friday April 28 (TBD) Game 7: If necessary, Hawks at Wizards, Sunday April 30 (TBD)